I just finished writing my first book. It’s going out into the world in a few weeks. When I started on this journey of writing my book, the thought of thousands of people reading my ideas didn’t really bother me. I had the usual trepidation that most of us experience when we put ourselves out there, whether it’s standing up at a conference to ask a question or posting a vulnerable post on Facebook. Who am I to put these ideas out into the world? I’m going to be judged. Who will be the first person to tell me that I am wrong?
Over the years, I’ve gotten used to these thoughts and have learned to let them slide by and put myself and my ideas out there anyway. So far, the worst thing that has happened was someone unsubscribed from my email list. No big deal. (OK, it stings a little, but still, no big deal).
Then an editor told me that I had written a lovely, safe outline for my book, full of other people’s stories, advice and exercises for my readers, but my book was missing my story.
My story? I was horrified, doubtful and curious – horrified at the thought of being vulnerable, doubtful that my story would be interesting to my readers, curious about what part of my story I would write. I wrote a few little personal stories, nothing too vulnerable.
Then I got angry with my book. It wasn’t saying what I wanted it to say. It was going to make me tell my story, even if it had to extract it from me.
My book helped me open my personal story vault. At first, I couldn’t write anything super personal. So, I started telling stories to my phone. I hit record and started talking. I talked about things that had happened to me that I had never told anyone. I would sit there with tears streaming down my face sobbing into my phone.
Some of the stories I uncovered in those recordings made it into my book, some I am not ready to tell, while others are still inside waiting to come out. But I have fallen in love with my life’s stories. I feel giddy and excited about my life. I’m proud of my life. And I feel a lot less shame around the bad parts.
Juan Felipe Herrera, the former U.S. Poet Laureate, says, “From silence into being. The more we express our voices… the more we become human beings.”
Tell your stories. The happy ones and the dark ones. Speak them into your phone. Write them in your journal. Tell your trusted friend. Be proud of the life you are living, the pain you have survived and the joy that makes you human.
*** Look for Kirsten’s Book Giveaway on Kind Over Matter – September 25, 2018. ***
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